May 14, 2008
One can enter from 7th Avenue or through the lobby of The Michelangelo Hotel. The decor reminds me of an upscale hotel coffee shop, very plain and modern in tones of gray. At least the silvery hangings and the panels hiding the ceiling provide some dampening of the noise of a full restaurant. Unfortunately, unneeded music was always playing. We had asked to be seated in one of the booths along the inside wall and so I could usually hear. As it was a Monday evening with most of Broadway closed, there were few pre-theater diners, but it was full by 8:30. We were promptly seated at 7:00 and were soon enjoying glasses of prosecco while we looked at the menu and the extensive wine list.
An amuse-gueule arrived: stracciatella or an Italian egg drop soup in warm tomato water. Nice.
We ordered a bottle of 2003 Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva which we really liked. We also appreciated that they let us pour our own wine.
SAFFRON FARFALLE, Maine Shrimp, Mussels, English Peas. The flavors of the mussel broth and the saffron were nicely balanced. The meal was getting off to a good start as we finished our prosecco.
CULINGIONIS con FAVE, Potato Ravioli with Fava Beans, Morels, Pecorino and Mint. These were complementary mild spring flavors and so they all came through. The fava beans were fresh, but were of the size that needs to be boiled; the morels were in season and nice.
ASPARAGUS RISOTTO with 3yr. Old Parmesan and Quail Egg. This was another dish with flavors of spring. The risotto was a bit on the liquid side, which became nicely unctuous when the pretty quail egg was mixed in.
PAPPARDELLE con CAPRETTO, Orégano Pasta with Braised Goat, Artichokes and Goat Milk Ricotta. The meal took a real turn here from light spring flavors to hearty, braised kid on substantial wide noodles. We were enjoying it as one might enjoy a meal at a country inn in Italy. Everything was good and well balanced, but we were not blown away by it.
MACCHERONI con SUGO di MAIALE, Penne with Pork Ragu and Fennel. It isn’t evident in the photo, but this course was larger than the others. The bowl was deep, while the others had been shallow. The thick maccheroni were freshly made and quite al dente. The pork had been coarsely ground and the meat flavor pervaded the dish.
This little bowl of buttermilk orange sorbet in a cold rhubarb consommé was really delicious.
The dessert on the tasting menu was a “NAPOLEON” DI CIOCCOLATO, Milk Chocolate Cream, with Chestnut and Sweet Potato Confit. That sounded good, but chocolate in the evening can give us digestive problems and we had already tempted that with so many pasta courses. We ordered two different desserts from the menu. There is a young French-trained pastry chef and the desserts are much better than at Hearth.
“ANTS ON A LOG”, Peanut Butter with Rice Crispies and Celery. This was creative, pretty, very rich and enjoyable. The peanut butter flavor in the little cake was superb.
SHEEP’S MILK RICOTTA “RAVIOLI”, with Micro Sorrel Emulsion and Toasted Hazelnuts. My dessert was much lighter than Linda’s, although just as creative. The flavors all went well together. I had a glass of 2002 Moscadeddu, Dettori, (Sardinia) with it.
I was happy that we could finish up with just some little crunchies as we had eaten quite a lot and the last part was rich, appropriately so, but that was enough.